Flipping through dollar bins is a time-honored tradition, especially at Toronto’s own Sonic Boom. Our friend Eric is sifting through the $1 records one-by-one, and learning lessons along the way. The rules are that he has to listen to the entire record, and not to do any research about artists before listening to avoid any contextual bias.
The Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace (1958)
COVER: Nostalgic picture of a jukebox with the artist/title in tiny 1970s pimp font. The image adds an air of mystery that was most likely unintentional. The back depicts America’s first teenagers sashaying around the old pinball machine in black and white. And, to top it all off, a personal note from the Big Bopper himself!
THOUGHTS: Nowadays we all roll our eyes to the sentiment that 1950s rock and roll was dangerous. But, “Helloooooo Babbbbbyyyyyyyy” is this “Big Bopper” character a horny old goat or what? In almost every song he is positively giddy with sexual glee at the prospects of “boppin” nubile teenage girls in Chantilly lace and pink petticoats. Also, the songs that aren’t about his pecker are funny stories. Big Bopper is a win/win.
WHAT I LEARNED: “Elvis was a hero to most/but he never meant shit to me” - Public Enemy. I’ve never seen the appeal of the Big E until he got fat and cool and that esteem dwindles when you listen to his peers do it better (uglier and hornier).
BEST TRACK: 5. The Big Bopper – “Big Bopper’s Wedding”
Very hard choice. “That’s the truth Ruth” is a song called “That’s the Truth Ruth.” “Preacher and the Bear” is a funny story about a bear chasing a preacher who had skipped church to hunt. But ultimately the honour goes to “Big Bopper’s Wedding” for encapsulating the entire Bopper ethos of getting lucky or lucking out.
It also confirms the fact that the Bopper definitely goes all the way and I’m fairly certain the last snare hit is meant to represent the Bopper getting shot by his potential future-father-in-laws proverbial shotgun.
AFTER GOOGLING: Chantilly Lace is a century old French lace known for it’s intricate and fine details. And for all you conspiracy theorists out there: The Big Bopper DID NOT shoot Buddy Holly resulting in the plane crash that claimed Bopper, Buddy, Richie and those other men.
COVER: Painting of children, possibly Peruvian, in cool clothes with dead eyes. It’s also got a neat sheen. Why do kids in the West dress like such slobs? There appears to be text, but I have no clue what language it’s in, let alone what it says. On the back is even more “gibberish” and several other children-oriented looking albums, including a Pinocchio that's almost there.
THOUGHTS: It’s always good for one to get out of one’s comfort zone. As surely as Dollar Binning is an excellent way to do so, none of the selections so far has been that different if you take into account the vastness of music in the world. Then again, I’m not one for weirdness for weirdness sake. So I thought, when I saw this record, “Hey, this looks pretty far out and if someone bothered to sell it rather than throw it out, it must be at least a little catchy.” I assumed it contained some weird Latin jazz or prog rock or something.
Turns out it’s simply different kids singing some sort of folk music that’s sorta polka-ish, sorta hymn-y and just sorta weird. And the primary instrument is bells. Definitely uncomfortable.
WHAT I LEARNED: Music is truly the universal language. Fuck Esperanto. Children’s singing is creepy. Children singing solo over bells is creepier. Children singing in an unknown language is creepiest. I couldn’t tell you why however…
BEST TRACK : 3. Παιδικά τραγούδια – “Dev mspväg Kupa Map Id” (Rough Translation)
This track has a child choir as well as a child soloist. This makes it cute instead of creepy and I sorta get the point. It’s also the only instance where an actual child is used.
AFTER GOOGLING: Παιδικά τραγούδια means “Fairy Tale” in GREEK of all things. I would have never guess this was a Greek album. As for the actual track numbers, Google Translate has failed me (or I it, sorry my Google.)
Donnie Iris – King Cool (1981)
COVER: Presumably Donnie Iris, the man himself, keeping it super cool smoking a cigarette while he farts. DONNIE IRIS KING COOL lettered about him. I’m not about to disagree. On the back is Donnie Iris and his band, the Cruisers. And the track listing’s in the WRONG ORDER. NOT COOL DONNIE.
THOUGHTS: Mixed bag of tracks that sound like Donnie Iris’s interruption of other bands, such as the Police and Huey Lewis and the News. So then, who is Donnie Iris? A fearless man willing to try anything without being that innovative. It’s all over the place but feels familiar in a comfortable way.
WHAT I LEARNED: Although I have much love for Huey Lewis and the News, that’s the only Huey Lewis and the News fit to print (rim shot).
BEST TRACK: 3. Donnie Iris – “Pretender”
I’m fairly sure I’ve heard this song before. But that was a sentiment I felt during almost every track. Nevertheless this song is rad. Oingo-Boingoesque.
AFTER GOOGLING: Donny Iris joined the band that wrote “Play that Funky Music” two years after they wrote the song “Play that Funky Music White Boy.” What a loser! King Cool my butt.